19 November 2007

quo vadis, India?

Is India progressing? If yes-what are the parameters? The economists in their preoccupation with various data and statistics see a flickering light on the horizon. Some optimists hope that the light will be steady by c. 2050. The signs are appearing visible at the sights of highrises, shopping malls, the increasing amount of money being invested in hospitality sector and the redoubtable Vijay Mallya’s announcement for Formula1being held in Indian track by 2010 etc amongst many others. The aspect of the number of poor being lessened down to a comfortable level will be taken up in the momentum of the process itself. But this is all about the physical health of the country. This is an index of how much and how many will able to consume in the system leading them ultimately to be consumed in the system itself. This is how the pigs and chickens are fattened and the measures taken to prevent them from viral and other infections so that they can afford to being consumed happily and hygienically. But there is an uncomfortable sense gripping me over at the sights of looks in the eyes of those, whom, I must have to identify as human beings, now waking at this dawn. It’s a sickening look of
avarice. I must enquire that whether the ‘light’ will enlighten also. After a long period of British rule-India, hundred years ago realised her identity and defined her longings culturally, politically, materially and spiritually. But like a superannuated mother she lacked the power and material strength required to reach her dream destination. There were glitters in her eyes in expectations that her children would redeem a future which was
rooted in the values of life as defined in the wisdom of this ancient civilization. Every collective community, as we find in history, when it progressed and attained its peak-the glory glittered through all that we consider as elements of civilization. The aspirations awoke and blossomed all over. Every awakening brought the attendant refinement in all fields of its life. Unlike the individual life a rich and wealthy nation can not be comprised of philistines. Is India heading towards a destination where she would wear an enlightened face? But a shadow is slowly catching up the refining light as the time is wearing on. Let us see the situation. All the cities of India have become havens of hardened criminals, of all sorts, protected by the administration. These criminals are the sources of sustenance for the police and the politicians. The police are supposed to save and protect the law abiding citizens and prevent the goons from doing mischief. But here in India in every police station the policemen’s only enthusiasm lies in finding opportunities where they can have deals with the perpetrators of crimes for consideration. The traffic police in the streets take bribe openly and whenever they need more income they threaten the honest drivers to pay; otherwise they are booked for violation of traffic rules. The Calcutta police in the British period was as efficient as to be compared with Scotland Yard. When Charles Augustus Tegart was the Police Commissioner during the period from 1923 to 1931, he was greatly admired for keeping the city free from crimes. However, he earned tremendous notoriety amongst
A man lost in pain. His story is very common amongst the poor of Calcutta. Having broken his leg in a fall, he was given improper outpatient treatment in a government hospital which resulted in his leg becoming gangrene, the rotting flesh permeating the corner of the dressing room he was in. He now risks losing his right leg, doctors at Talapark clinic sent him to another hospital shortly. This time his treatment will be paid for and supervised by Calcutta Rescue.
the freedom fighters of Bengal for being an obdurate opponent of Indian nationalism to the point of illegality and, for the ruthless torture of prisoners. But for this we are to blame the British rulers under whom Tegart served. Our point is that Tegart –however cruel and notorious he might be- was honest and sincere in his duty to maintain law and order-the most needed thing for both the ruler and the ruled. At least no high police officials in Lalbazar (the Calcutta Police HQ ) was ever recorded even unofficially as involved in criminal and unlawful activities. Now the IPS and IAS officers (equivalent to the ICS cadre of the British period) do not hesitate to violate the laws of the country for self interest. Ironically they are the most brilliant students from universities. Women, some years ago, were unsafe walking alone in the evening in some Calcutta and other city streets. Now they have become vulnerable even in broad daylight. Going by the news paper reports, one would come around the most uncomfortable belief that women are always and everywhere chased by a sex-hungry generation of modern India. They are not safe as patients in hospitals, teachers and students in educational institutions, devotees in temples, passengers in buses and trains and in every possible place they are the target of uncontrolled desires. The healthcare facility in India was never good and most often mainly from ignorance, people, especially in the villages and small towns, were afraid of being admitted in hospitals. But there was no single
instance of a patient being denied admission. Now in Calcutta, even the seriously injured ones by accidents do not find it easy to get admitted instantaneously considering the need of urgency in such matters, when they are brought to the hospitals. Private practitioners never visit serious patients on call in late night. Earlier the situation was not so; the doctors visited the patients in their houses at such odd hours. Medical profession was considered as a noble profession following British tradition and doctors were held in esteem in the society. But now they have been subjected to Consumer Protection Act as they seem to be no different than a trader or a contractor. The food supplied for the patients in government hospitals do not go to them. Most of the food is consumed by the canteen officials. The medicines supplied are sold out to the market and so the patients have to buy the prescribed medicines from the private shops. In many jails in India, the criminals may get extra facilities by bribing the warders. In some cases they enjoy as much facilities as were available to them in outside world. They keep cell phones and maintain contacts to the outer world. It is a widely known fact unofficially. No government cares to check corruption in jails. Teachers in the British period and in the early independent era are the most respected class in the society but they were the very poorly paid section. Now the teachers are handsomely paid. So when it is expected that this comfortable livelihood would help them to get more involved to their task of building the ‘future citizens’ –they themselves have become inclined to insincerity, avarice for money and irresponsibility. To become a teacher is to get access to the extraneous source of earning more by giving private tuition. They insist the students should pay money in their privately run classes if the they want to score more marks. The situation has become so unhealthy that the government has banned private tuition by teachers of government schools and colleges. But it continues as usual and not a single teacher has been officially punished for violating the law. It is because most teachers are activists under political parties. The government, following the suggestion of planning commission, grants sanctions of millions of rupees for improvement of primary education in the country. But much of this money goes to the pockets of the officials and the politicians. A renowned historian Tapan Roy Choudhury informs us that as a member of an education mission he found that the libraries of colleges did not have books for which large amount had been sanctioned by the University Grants Commission. He found that the money sanctioned was not used for lack of initiative. But to his surprise he found an exception in an institution where the library was well equipped with various books. On enquiry he came to know that the concerned librarian had a close relative who was a dealer of books. So it was a convenient situation for the librarian and the book seller to share money between them. The ministers and the members of the opposition parties quarrel with languages that can not be used openly in a civilised society. The general people are habituated to spitting on the streets. They, even the educated ones, find it convenient to urinate on the sides of the roads and streets in the cities. The public and the police equally enjoy violating the traffic rules. In spite of ruling of the Supreme Court against bursting crackers beyond permissible decibels –the young people enjoy bursting of violent crackers at every occasion of festivals. Here in India the government of a state openly criticises the governor-who is the official head of the same government because the governor accuses the government for its wrong doing by employing the goons and dacoits to kill and evict many villagers in order to rehabilitate the party cadres. In many states the parties use money powers to buy elected legislators to form government. There is virtually no democracy in India as all the institutions of this country are governed and headed by the party bosses. One great man once remarked that the parliamentary system of democracy for India was a bastard child of Westminster Abbey. In spite of all this India is fast growing to be wealthy enough to be one among the first world countries after five decades. But will it be enough for her to be poised in the dignity of existence? One is not born to ride a Bentley, to dine in a five (or more) star hotel, to travel in an Airbus A380, to live in a million- dollar apartment and to do all that a Mukesh Ambani or Bill Gates is capable of. The very nature of scientific activity is to be inquisitive. A scientist enquires everything to know the secrets of all; he does not like or accept things existing in hidden ways. So is the child also. Scientists unlike the child are different only in being adults and in their constant search for convenient living which India is going to acquire. But a man is born not to be only a scientist, a painter, a poet, an engineer, a businessman, a politician but basically to seek a truth and purpose of his life. I do not hold any opinion against science, democracy and comfortable living. But my point is whether India has really found her path which can lead her to the proper destination-her home in this world. In this context it reminds me the wisdom of ancient India when what Maitreyi, the wife of Yajnavalka told her husband. At the time when Yajnvalka was leaving for a recluse he told her, "Maitreyi, I am forsaking all and leaving home. If you so desire, I can make separate provisions for Katyayani and yourself." To these words of Yajnavalkya, Maitreyi gave answer, "If all my possessions were to fill the whole earth, would they bring me immortality, my lord?" Yajnavalkya had to reply, "No, that could never be; that would be impossible. But you could thereby have a life of enjoyments, like all other people who have wealth. But of immortality there would be no hope." There upon Maitreyi exclaimed, "What then am I to do with that which does not make me immortal?" I am yet to know the answer for my beloved land, India.


frank said...

i was surprised about the part concerning women, i had no idea the situation is worse fot them today than yesterday..
Thank you for this article that explains a lot about how does things work
and about corruption, i think that as long as money will be considered as the most important thing (and that's quite what's happening everywhere), greed will follow..

Anonymous said...

A timely article. It paints a vivid picture of what India is today. It helps the reader to break his fixation with the GDP and the Sensex. The real worth of a people is not this but lies elsewhere.